All About Wheels for Front Wheel Drive and All Wheel Drive Volvo Models
Sunday, January 13, 2013 - ipd staff
Wheel and tire sizes can be confusing no matter who you are! In this video Cameron discusses the major specifications and terms used for wheels and tires and how they all work together.
Rotating your tires increases tire life and in some Volvo models it can have a very big effect on your all wheel drive system too. In this video Cameron touches on the major points of tire rotation on Volvos and some special considerations for certain models.
Wheels & Tire 101
Next to "Why won't my Volvo start?" the most popular question we get at ipd is "What size tires and wheels should I put on My Volvo?" This can be a tough question to answer, as there are so many variables to consider. Budget, local weather and geographical considerations, driving style, ride quality, road noise, and tire life all factor in to choosing tires. Add the subjective wheel styles to the picture and you can see how the process can become very time consuming. Ultimately itÍs a choice that only you can make once you have gathered enough information.
The first number (185) is the width of the tire in millimeters, measured from sidewall to sidewall. This dimension is also called the section width. In the example above, the width is 185mm or 7.28". The second number (70) is the aspect ratio. This is a ratio of sidewall height to width. The aspect ratio is also sometimes called the "series". In the example above, the tire is 7.28" wide. Multiply that by the aspect ratio to find the height of one sidewall. In this case, 185 x 0.70=129.5 mm or 7.28" x 0.70=5.096". The last number is the diameter of the wheel in inches.
To calculate the outside diameter of a tire, take the sidewall height and multiply by 2 (remember that the diameter is made up of 2 side walls), then add the diameter of the wheel to get your answer. So, for the tire in our example:
185mm x .70 =129.5 mm x 2=259.mm + 355.6mm(14")= 614.6 mm or 24.197 inch
Wheel Terminology and Specs
Bolt Pattern or Bolt Circle
The bolt pattern or bolt circle is the diameter of an imaginary circle formed by the centers of the wheel lugs. Most Volvos* use a bolt pattern of 5 on 4.25 inch (108mm). This indicates a 5-lug pattern on a 4.25 inch circle, which is pretty much unique to Volvo. A few other cars use this bolt pattern, such as Ferraris and some Fords, but in most cases the offset is different enough to prevent the use of any wheels not built specifically for use on a Volvo.
*Exceptions: 1993 850 use 4 on 4.25" and the 2000 to 2004 40 series use 4 on 4.5".
The offset of a wheel is the distance from its hub-mounting surface to the centerline of the wheel. If the offset of the wheel is not correct for the car, the handling can be adversely affected and in most cases will cause severe rubbing. The offset will be one of three types. Since the sixties Volvo has pretty much stuck with positive offset wheel designs.
The hub-mounting surface is even with the centerline of the wheel.
The hub-mounting surface is toward the front or road/outside side of the wheel. Positive offset wheels are generally found on front wheel drive cars and newer rear drive cars. (And all Volvos!)
The hub mounting surface is toward the back or brake side of the wheel centerline. Deep dish wheels are typically a negative offset.
Popular Volvo Wheel Offsets* & Hub bores
*(Offset is also commonly referred to as "ET" and is often stamped into the backside of wheels)
850/C-S-V 70 1993-2000 + 35-38mm offset with 65.1 mm hub bores
S&V 40 2000-2004 + 42mm offset with 63.1mm hub bores
S40, V50, C30 2004.5-2008 +43mm offset with 63.1 mm hub bores
C70 2006-2008 +43mm offset with 63.1 mm hub bores
S60 2001-2007 + 42mm offset with 65.1 mm hub bores
V70 2001-2007 + 42mm offset with 65.1 mm hub bores
S80 1999-2006 + 42mm offset with 65.1 mm hub bores
XC90 2003-2008 +42mm to 48mm offset with 67.1 mm hub bores
Generally speaking you can deviate a few mmÍs from the offsets listed, but it is best to test fit at all 4 corners of the car with a tire mounted to be sure. We always do our best to provide accurate information in regards to the proper applications of the wheels we sell (models they can be installed on).
Having the correct hub bore in the wheel is very important on front wheel drive and all wheel drive models to prevent vibration. Some wheels are manufactured to the exact hub bore for specific application, while others may use an adapter ring (called a hub centric ring). Hub centric rings are adapters that are pressed into the opening in the backside of the wheel to precisely center the wheel on the car's hub. The use of hub centric rings has become very common and allows wheel manufacturers to keep costs down by reducing the number of unique fitments they must manufacture. If you have any questions or concerns about the safe use of hub rings, give our customer service department a call at 800-444-6473.
The Plus Concept
All the combinations in the above example are the same height as the plus sizing concept allows you to run larger wheels while retaining the correct tire diameter which is important for gearing and speedometer accuracy.
Most enthusiasts want to know how large they can go. We have some general sizes that we recommend, but keep in mind that wheel offset, worn bushings and even differences in tire manufacturers could lead to interference problems.
Plus sizing your wheels and tires is a popular way to improve both the performance and appearance of your vehicle. By using a larger diameter wheel with a lower profile tire it's possible to properly maintain the overall diameter of the tire, keeping odometer and speedometer changes negligible. By using a tire with a shorter sidewall, you gain quickness in steering response and better lateral stability. The visual appeal is obvious, as most wheels look better than the sidewall of the tire, so the more wheel and less sidewall there is, the better it looks.
The drawback with plus sizing is a significant loss of ride quality and less rubber to protect the wheel from road hazards once you get into the 17" and 18" sizes. Volvo has used Plus Sizing on its performance models over the years. For example, the "S60R" models usually come with 17" or even optional 18" wheel and tire packages compared to the base model's 15" wheels and tires.
Popular Upgraded Tire sizes for Volvo Models
The 850 is limited to a 215 maximum section width due to restrictive plastic fender liners. 215-55-16", 215-45-17" and 215-40-18" are popular upgrades.
The 1998-2000 70 series can accept up to a 225 section width, common upgrades include 225-50-16", 225-45-17" and 225-40-18".
The 1999-2006 S80, 2001-2007 S60 and 2001-2007 V70 can accept up to a 235 section width tire, common upgrades include 235-45-17", 235-40-18" and 235-35-19".
The 2004.5 to 2008 S40, V50 and C30 can run 225-45-17" and 225-40-18".
The 2003-2008 XC90 can accept the following plus sizes 255-55-18", 255-50-19" and 265-45-20".
CAUTION! Keep in mind that most tire upgrades will require that you upgrade your wheels to the proper width and offset to accommodate wider tires. If you are going to deviate from the stock tire diameter used on your Volvo, you may want to calculate speedometer error and the effect on gearing that can occur when making a significant change. Lastly, don't overlook the basics like the manufacturers recommended rim width, load rating and inflation guidelines.
Test fit wheels before mounting tires!
Step 1: Test fit each wheel to ensure it has the correct bolt pattern and hub bore and does not come into contact with any parts in the front or rear positions. Check for proper fit as described below.
Refer to your vehicle ownerÍs manual for safe wheel installation guidelines.
Step 2: When removing lug nuts or bolts, never use powered impact wrenches of any type. It's best to carefully remove lugs with a four-way wrench or a socket on a breaker bar. An impact wrench may damage the lugs.
ATTENTION: Check the condition of the vehicle's lug nuts / lug bolts. If you feel any resistance or see any damaged threads, replace the fasteners before reinstalling the wheels. We have lug nuts and bolts available for most models. Wheels must fit flat against the vehicle's hubs. Please note that most Volvo models will have a wheel alignment pin or 10mm bolt that is used to hold the brake rotor in position until the wheel is installed. Be sure that the pin or bolt does not interfere with the seating of the wheel. If it does, remove the alignment pin and or 10 mm rotor retaining bolt, they are for convenience and serve no load bearing function. If aftermarket wheels have previously been used on the vehicle, be sure to verify that the previous wheel's hub centering rings are not stuck to the hub. If you have any questions, contact our customer service department at 800-444-6473.
Step 3: Check the fit of the wheel onto the hub of the vehicle. (Some wheel applications may require the use of a hub centric ring for proper fit onto the hub.) This is especially critical on front wheel and all wheel drive models to prevent vibration. The bolt circle of the wheel must match that of your vehicle and the wheel must make full contact to the mating surface of the hub. If the wheel does not match up to the bolt circle of the vehicle, or the wheel does not have full contact to the mounting surface, please contact ipd customer service department at 800-444-6473.
Step 4: If you are not re-using the original lug bolts / lug nuts, verify that you have the correct lugnuts or bolt thread sizes by first installing the lug nuts or bolts without the wheel.
Step 5: For the next inspections it will be necessary to temporarily install the wheel by snugging down the lug nuts or bolts in order to verify disc brake caliper clearance. Start threading the lugs with your fingers and pay attention to the clearance while you tighten them until they are "finger tight." Generally we do not sell wheels for applications that would require spacers, unless we clearly note it in the product description. If you encounter a brake caliper clearance issue, spacers are availabe, but will often require longer fasteners. Please contact our customer service department at 800-444-6473 for more information.
NOTE: Since the hub mounting thickness of an alloy wheel can differ from Original Equipment wheels, verify that the lug nuts or bolts are long enough to engage the threads. Refer to the chart below to determine the number of turns for proper lug bolt / lug nut engagement.
Number of turns
S60 2001-2007 , V70 2001-2007, S80 1999-2006, XC90 2003-2008
850 all, S70 all, 1998-2000 V70, C70 1998-2005
Step 6: Place your Volvos transmission in neutral and turn each wheel by hand while making certain that the outer edge of the disc brake caliper doesn't touch the inside of the rim or that the side of the caliper doesn't come into contact with the backside of the wheel or the wheel balancing weights.
Step 7: Wheel Lug Nut Torquing
Proper installation requires that the wheels be torqued to the recommended specification for your vehicle. Torque specifications can be found in your Volvos owners manual. Finish tightening the lugs with a torque wrench . Use a crisscross sequence (star pattern) until they have reached their proper torque value. Be careful because if you over torque a wheel, you can strip a lug nut, stretch or break a wheel stud, and cause the wheel and or brake rotor to distort.
While new wheel installation isn't difficult, it's no harder than changing a flat tire, it's imperative that you take the necessary safety precautions.
NOTE: When installing new wheels you should re-torque them after a short low speed trip around the block and then again after the first 50 to 100 miles to account for any mis-alignment or seating in that can allow fasteners to loosen up some. Simply repeat the same torque procedure listed above.
Tuesday, January 15, 2013 - JOHN BREWSTER
Thanks for the info. I have a set of near perfect wheels from my 1999 C/70 HPT with great tires. They are the 17" 5 spoke with Conti DWS 225/45/17 I tried them on my 1998 s70 GLT. The only problem was they rub on the inside (chassis side, not outer body side) of the wheel wells in back and when i make a turn they scrub the inside well in front. Can a spacer be used? perhaps 5 to 10mm to give me that clearance? Any thoughts would be appreciated.
Tuesday, January 15, 2013 - WILLIAM A. LAVALLEE
This is a good article on wheels & tires. My 2001 V70 2.4T came with 2.35/45 X 17 tires that rubbed on the inner front fenders and had a very large turning radius. After a few years I sold the original wheels and tires and bought S80 16 inch wheels to get away from the then hard-to-find 17" tires and the wheel rubbing. I was disappointed that Volvo would sell a car with tires that were too wide for the fender design. Bill
Wednesday, January 16, 2013 - GEORGE ZOUCK
What an awesome article. I have an '01 v70 t5 with the same rubbing problem. I thought about putting on a limiter, but the turning radius is terrible. Now I think a wheel/ tire change would help.